SONA shines light on arts

Masisi says Botswana will collaborate with Eswatini Trade Fair to leverage on best practices targeted at crafters in rural areas PIC: PHATSIMO KWAPENG
Masisi says Botswana will collaborate with Eswatini Trade Fair to leverage on best practices targeted at crafters in rural areas PIC: PHATSIMO KWAPENG

When President Mokgweetsi Masisi delivered the State of The Nation Address this week, he finally shone some light on a lot of issues in the creative sector, one of which is the establishment of the long overdue National Arts Council.

Even though he did not go into depth on this, so many game players have bemoaned the delay in establishing the council that will resolve many irregularities and conflict in the arts sector.

He said the development of the National Arts Council Act, the review of the Cinematography Act and the accession to the UNESCO 2005 Convention on the Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions are some of the processes his government will initiate to improve legislation and policy frameworks for the sector.

The Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions is a legally-binding international agreement that ensures artists, cultural professionals, practitioners and citizens worldwide can create, produce, disseminate and enjoy a broad range of cultural goods, services and activities, including their own.

Masisi said this would be done in recognition of the talent of Batswana and the potential of the cultural and creative industries to create jobs. Masisi also said following the extension of the African Opportunity Act (AGOA) to 2025, Botswana developed a National Response Strategy and its implementation is ongoing. “To date, work plans have been developed and some progress has been realised under the arts and crafts, and meat and meat products sectors. Under the Arts and Crafts sector, Botswana will collaborate with Eswatini Trade Fair to leverage on best practices and assist in developing a comprehensive strategy for the sector which will constitute external market access and local capacity building targeted at crafters in rural areas,” he said.

Masisi announced that a storage facility, as a pilot project for Shakawe, Gumare and Etsha areas, has been set up in Gumare to ensure that various basketry weavers are accorded the opportunity to expand their market base and exhibit their products to potential international tourists.

He was also quick to disclose that the government has also commenced the establishment of an e-commerce platform or market place for purposes of availing and marketing arts and crafts.  “The profiling and packaging of selected products for eventual uploading on the marketplace is ongoing.”  Masisi admitted that the tourism sector is narrowly focused on wildlife and wilderness tourism. He said they included the arts in the development, diversification and expansion of tourism attractions and experiences pre-requisites for Botswana to expand its market reach and share. He said to achieve this, the policy intervention for Product Development and Diversification will cover various strategies to pursue tourism linkages such as diamond shopping and arts and crafts among others.

Masisi added that the Gambling Authority (GA) has embarked on a licensing programme that will result in a National Lottery. “The lottery will transform development and financing of charities, sports and recreation, which is expected to spur arts, culture and youth development.

The process to appoint a National Operator is ongoing and is expected to be concluded by the end of this financial year,” he said.

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